Time of Your Life: How to Fit in Fitness

Your health is worth making time for.

We’ve all said it before. Between a mounting workload, juggling your family’s various schedules, and taking care of the home, “I don’t have time” rolls off the tongue effortlessly, no? It is an especially comforting phrase to tell yourself. Most people pull the time card when deciding whether or not to “indulge” in staying healthy, cooking a nutritious meal (rather than takeout,) and especially exercising.

If you truly want to do something for your own well being, erase “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. Next time, try saying “I can’t seem to organize my life to take care of myself”  This means that you’ll be telling yourself “I don’t care enough to make it a priority”… hmm… how does that sit with you? Ouch, right?

Now, if you are on this corner of the Internet, chances are you do care enough but perhaps haven’t figured out how to prioritize taking care of your needs above others or above doing the meaningless tasks that seem to mindlessly fill our day.

Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate fitness into a hectic schedule:

  1. Schedule it into your Calendar
    If it’s not in your calendar then it doesn’t exist, and it’s clearly not a priority.  If you feel taking care of yourself is a priority, then you should ‘book an appointment’ with yourself- schedule it in your calendar invite and be sure to have reminder alerts to remind you to bring your workout clothes and to begin gathering your stuff in time to be on time for your workout appointment.Tricks- if your colleagues might ‘overbook’ that time-slot then designate it “DNS” (do not schedule), ‘Personal meeting”.  One of my executive clients books 60 minutes each day for “walking office hours” and tells his reportees and colleagues that if you book into that time-slot, be prepared to walk briskly outside during that time.  Love that approach!
  2. Ritual
    For people with busy lives (children, evening engagements etc.), I recommend exercising in the morning; otherwise, the day is likely to get away from you.  By the time, you are done with the day’s work, you are too tired to motivate for exercise.If you are organized enough to peel yourself away from your back to back meetings and social engagements, and are partial to getting their blood moving between work and home, then exercising toward the end of the day can be a wonderful way to give yourself the energy boost you need for the remainder of the evening.Whatever your preference, make a recurring date with yourself – same time each day.
  3. Triggers and Anchors
    Research has shown you are far more likely to engage in a behavior (healthy or unhealthy) if you attach them to things that make you feel good (triggers) and to existing behaviors (anchors).For example, let’s assume you are like many fast moving people who check their email on their phone first thing in the morning.  I would suggest that you place your cell phone inside your running shoes!  Sounds crazy, but this scenario will force you to look for your running shoes.  Since exercise itself invokes positive emotional and physiological changes in the body, then seeing your running shoes in the morning will invoke a positive experience and entice you to go running.
  4. Save time and money
    Make good use of your limited time and budget:

    • a.)  Commuting by car takes me 40 minutes in traffic and costs $30 between bridge tolls and parking.   It takes 60 minutes to bicycle to work.   I purchased a $900 bicycle and it paid for itself after 30 days commuting to work!  2 hours of cycling cost an extra 40 minutes of time– now that’s time well spent!
    • b.) Next lunchtime, enlist a coworker to walk to your preferred restaurant or deli. Chatting and getting a change of scenery will make the time pass by so quickly.
    • c.) A personal favorite: enlist your kids to come to the next sweat session. If you have very young children, this could mean pushing them in a stroller while you jog. If your little ones see you exercising regularly, it will help instill lifelong fitness them.
  5. Date time
    Next time your significant other (or friend!) suggests cruising by happy hour, mix things up by suggesting a fun exercise class or beautiful hike instead. It will definitely help keep your relationship lively and increase your drive to stick with fitness. A recent study at Indiana University showed that members joining a fitness club alone had a 43% dropout rate; for those who joined with their spouse only 6.3% dropped out!

As long as you are going to make habits,  you might as well make good habits…ones that will make you smile, laugh, and feel good!

Wishing you continued good health,
– Dr Brad

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8775648

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